Your holiday activity guide for Southern Ontario
This guest blog is written by a founding member of Women for Nature, Amy Cross who is the Program Manager at The Schad Foundation. Amy strongly believes in the value nature brings to people’s lives. Her passion for nature and wildlife is shared with her family and this guides her life mission to protect biodiversity in her own backyard, country and planet. In this blog, Amy shares with our audience the many outdoor and nature based activities that you and your family can experience or explore this holiday season. Happy holidays while celebrating nature too!
I am predict I am not alone in saying my families holiday season if often busy and overscheduled with friends and family visits, the shopping, cooking and eating that often goes along with these gatherings, not to mention decorating, shopping and wrapping gifts and preparing for out of town guests. Don’t get me wrong the holiday season is my favorite time of year and not only because of all of the things listed above but also the music, sense of community, spirit of giving back and enjoying one of my families favorite change of season… winter!
This year I have committed to making my family’s holiday more active, engaging, meaningful and environmental by participating in many of the activities listed below.
By all means use these events and activities as reasons to get together with friends and family members… you will not only get to spend quality time together but to also give back, enjoy the outdoors and for some events learn about and/or protect species and the environment! If there is an event we missed please share it in the comments section!
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES & EVENTS
Christmas Bird Count with Bird Studies Canada, December 14 – January 5, 2015
You can help monitor and conserve North America’s birds! To get involved in the Christmas Bird Count, find a count near you and connect with the local contact. You can be a field observer on your own by joining a small group, counting all birds you find. Or you can participate in your own backyard as a Feeder Watchers and count birds at your feeder for a portion of the day.
Winterfest on Toronto’s Waterfront, December 18 – December 20, 2015
Families can join Santa and his elves for the 10th Annual Santa Cruise aboard Mariposa Cruises’ Northern Spirit, festive brunch included. Pets can get in on the action with pet photos with Santa at Purina PawsWay, while families can learn more about the Arctic and create their own piece of art at the Museum of Inuit Art. People of all ages can also take part in a FREE pastry-eating contest, hosted by the BeaverTails mascot Beav, and enjoy holiday carols by a cappella group! For more information, click here.
Holiday Hike in High Park – December 20, 2015
Meet at the benches by Grenadier Café at 10:30am and enjoy a hike through High Park to Colborne Lodge where you will enjoy hot cider. For more information, click here.
Scenic Caves Nordic Adventures
This one required a trip to Blue Mountain but activities include groomed cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and traversing 420 feet over Southern Ontario’s longest suspension bridge!
This spectacular winter playground at the highest point of the Niagara Escarpment is set in one of Canada’s sixteen UNESCO biosphere reserves. The suspension bridge features panoramic view of Georgian Bay and the varied, picturesque nature trails range from gentle rolling slopes to steep climbs.
Inspired by nature, the trails wind through a 200 year old forest rich with wildlife. Winter owls and a wide variety of other birds will beckon to you from the 100 foot tall maple, beech and oak trees, while deer and many other animals can be seen in the forest. For more information, click here.
Magical Christmas Forest Kortright Centre for Conservation – December 12, 13, 19, 20, 2015
The forest comes to life with lights, friendly elves and your favorite Christmas characters. Visit Santa’s workshop to see the elves at work. Play games, make Christmas crafts and watch a Christmas movie in our theater. Enjoy carols and Christmas treats by the fire. Each child will have the chance to visit Santa’s cabin and tell Santa their Christmas wish. For tickets and more information, click here.
Toronto Zoo Treats and Talks – 11am – 2:30pm December 26, 2015
The Toronto Zoo is the place to be on Boxing Day! Enjoy 50% off admission all day and check out their extensive Keeper Talk Program that offers a fun holiday theme and delightful seasonal treats for the Zoo’s animals. Please bring a non-perishable food item for the Daily Bread Food Bank and any old cellphones to help support the Great Ape Conservation program. Plus, if you are looking to warm-up from the cold why not drop by the Zoo’s new Indoor Giraffe Exhibit, or one of the Zoo’s five indoor and exotic pavilions. For a full schedule and more information, click here.
INDOOR ACTIVITIES & EVENTS
Earth Rangers’ Happy Holi-DIY Mission!
Each holiday season we buy new toys, clothing and who can forget the shiny new holiday decorations that make the season bright! Our forests provide us with the resources to make these products (like wood, paper and metals) so it’s important that they are collected in a responsible way.
Organizations like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) make it easy to choose products that help conserve our forests – you can look for their name on the products you buy!
This year you can take action to help conserve Canada’s forests and the animals living there by making your own holiday gifts and decorations. Go to their website and sign up to be an official Earth Rangers’ Member, you can then accept the Happy Holi-DIY Mission, you’ll get access to awesome crafts that you can make from items found around your home. When you’re done, visit this site to let everyone know about your Happy Holi-DIY Mission!
Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory Flight of White, December 5, 2015 – January 31, 2016 (Closed Dec 21-26, Jan 1)
This truly unique holiday exhibit transforms the tropical butterfly conservatory into a magical oasis featuring 1000’s of additional Rice Paper butterflies flying freely through the Conservatory. With a wingspan of up to 14cm, the Rice Paper Butterfly, a large white relative of the Monarch, is impossible to miss as it floats through the air moving gently from flower to flower. Rice Paper Butterflies are favorite of guests because they land on people the most!
The Flight of White experience also includes lush white poinsettia flowers, 1000’s of sparking white lights, and soft strains of classical music playing in the background. Talk about a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of holiday activities! For more information, click here.
Reptillia Tours and Winter Camp – December 21-24 and December 28 – January 1, 2015
Reptilia Reptile Zoo is a state of the art 25,000 square foot CAZA accredited facility complete with large exhibits showcasing hundreds of different reptiles and amphibians.
This winter Reptilia offers a safe, exciting and unforgettable camp experience for your 4-12 year old. Our campers learn about science, interact with amazing creatures and enjoy all kinds of winter fun at the same time.
Repitllia is also open for daily tours everyday but Christmas!
For more information, click here.
Ripley’s Aquarium – Open 365 days a year!
Ripley’s Aquarium showcases the beauty and significance of our aquatic world and the animals within it, to both entertain and inspire while encouraging you to respect and protect the waters of the world.
The Aquarium features over 16,000 aquatic animals and North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel with more than 5.7 million litres of water and over 100 interactive opportunities. Get up close and personal with three touch exhibits featuring horseshoe crabs, sharks, and rays as well as daily dive shows every 2 hours. For tickets and more information, click here.